A Guide to Extra Gear

What Else Do I Need?

Not much, but there are a few things that'll make your new life as a guitarist a whole lot easier. A good case is essential, as are extra strings, a string-winder, and a reliable tuner. Pics are pretty important too, capos can make playing a lot more interesting, and stands help make practicing a lot more spontaneous and fun.

But which to choose? I can't tell you what you'll end up preferring, but I can help save you a few bucks and headaches by telling you what I prefer and why. I've personally tested every item below and use most of them regularly. If you prefer to shop locally, click here. Otherwise, just click on the pictures to buy online. I've worked hard to ensure that the prices linked here are the lowest available anywhere.

Tuners

Guitar Toolkit

iPhone App Store

Why spend money on a guitar tuning app when
there are literally dozens of free ones online?
I don't usually recommend multifunction products
(jack of all trades nearly always means master of none)
but this little app isn't just the exception to the rule,
it re-writes the book.

It's one of the most useful, flexible, and accurate tuners I own. The metronome is excellent too, and if they'd stopped there then I'd still be recommending this app - but they didn't. They included an interactive library of chords, scales, and arpeggios too, and each is the best I've ever used.

Forget those heavy, ugly chord books, clunky tuners,
and funky metronomes. This one doesn't weigh a thing
and it outperforms them all.

Pros: Too numerous to count. Buy it now.
Cons: Not so great in noisy environments, iPhone only*.

* For Andriod users I recommend this app.

TC Electronic Polytune Clip

Model: Polytune Clip

These are great little tuners for the price, suitable for
simple needs like tuning up for class or practice.

This particular model uses a digital vibration sensor
instead of a microphone, making it excellent for use
in noisy envoirnments like cafés or open-mic nights.
The battery lasts for ages, too, if you remember to
turn it off after tuning.


Pros:
Super cheap, easy to read, ignores noise.
Cons: Accurate to ±0.02 cents, chromatic-only.

Stands

On-Stage A-Frame Stand

Model: GS7462B

It's too easy to forget about practicing with
your guitar tucked away in its case. Buy a stand
and you'll be surprised by how much more often
you'll pick it up and play. Stands aren't often very
pretty, though, and many topple too easily,
which can be really rough on a guitar.

That's why I prefer these stands. Their wide stance
and low profile make them difficult to overturn, their
simple and open design makes using them as easy
as it ought to be, and they almost disappear when
holding an acoustic guitar.

Pros: Inexpensive, solid, secure, and reliable.
Cons: None.

Off The Wall Guitar Hanger

Model: OFFWM1

Hanging your guitar on a wall frees up floor space,
plus the added security of knowing that your guitar
is much less likely to be knocked to the ground.
Unless you live with ninjas.

You'll find lots of wall-mount guitar hangers out there
from which to choose. These are the ones I prefer.
I appreciate their simple look and sturdy build, and the
rotating cradle keeps your guitar hanging straight
regardless of the shape of its headstock.

Pros: Inexpensive, discreet, looks pretty awesome.
Cons: Pull out the power tools.

Capos

Kyser Capo

Model: KG6B

Some folks say that using a capo is cheating.
I say those folks are snobs. I think every guitarist
ought to have at least one capo lying about. They're
super useful for fun stuff like shifting quickly between
tunings, testing out your singing voice in new keys,
and pretending that you play the ukulele.

These are good capos. They're cheap, sturdy, reliable, attractive, and easy to set and remove with one hand.
I have noticed, though, that the Kyser's lack of adjustable tension and the intense pressure of its kung fu grip can knock some guitars way out of tune.

Pros: Cheap, sturdy, and easy to use.
Cons: Very tight clamp, non-variable pressure.

Shubb Capo

Model: C1

This one's a bit less intuitive to use at first as compared to the Kyser but pretty simple once you get the hang of it. That little screw-like thing allows you to dial in just the right pressure for your neck, even after you've set it.

My Telecaster (an electric guitar) likes this one a lot. My Martin (an acoustic guitar) prefers the one below.

Pros: Nice-looking, variable pressure.
Cons: Need two hands to set & remove.

G7th 

Model: Perfomance

This is the Cadillac of capos. Almost as easy to set and remove as the Kyser, but much simpler, sleeker, and more discreet. The best thing about it, though, is the mechanical design, which allows for variable pressure that clamps down just as your fingers would. In simple terms, what this means is that this capo will never knock your guitar out of tune when you set it on the neck.

Super nice! Pricy, though.

Pros: Excellent design, variable pressure.
Cons: Pricy (but worth it)

*G7th makes three different models of capo: PerformanceNewport, and Nashville. I haven't listed the other two here because I've never tried them myself - but I'm really curious about them, so don't be surprised if you see them up here soon.

Picks

Everly Star Picks

Model: 12 Pack

These picks sound nice and feel good in my hands.
They're color-coded by thickness (most beginners
prefer thin pics) and that little pointy-edged hole
in the middle really does help keep them from
slipping about while you're playing.

I'm partial to the yellow and orange ones, myself.
They're plenty soft when I need to play delicately,
yet still strong and punchy when I want to hit it hard.
 

Pros: Cheap, easy to find at most Bay Area shops.
Cons: You might not like 'em. Pics are personal.

*The prices above reflect the range currently available
on Amazon. Take care when ordering pics online and
be sure you're buying what you think you're buying.

 

Strings

Martin 92/8 Strings

Model: Phosphor Bronze - Light/Medium

I find these to be great strings for beginning players. They represent a fair compromise between heavier strings, which almost always sound better to my ears, and lighter strings, which are always easier on the fingers of new players.

These are the ones that I use on my student guitar:
an Epiphone AJ-220S in vintage sunburst.

Pros:  Nice-sounding, easier to play for new fingers.
Cons:  Not quite as full-sounding as mediums.

Martin 80/20 Strings

Model: Bronze - Medium

These are the strings that I use on my Martin.
I find their sound to be fuller, brighter, and more
balanced than the light-medium strings listed above.
It takes a bit more hand strength to play with
heavier guage strings, though, and so new
players often prefer to avoid them.

Don't be afraid to try a set of mediums, though;
your fingers will get used to the heavier guage
a lot quicker than you'd think.

Pros: A fuller and more balanced sound.
Cons:  A bit tough on the fingers for new players.

String Winders

Planet Waves Pro Winder

Model: DP0002

String winders can make changing your strings a breeze,
but only if they're well-designed. Cheaper ones are readily
available on nearly every music store counter. Skip those
cheapos and spend a few bucks more on this one.

It's a string winder, a peg puller, and a wire snipper:
everything you need to get the job done quickly.
Toss one into your case along with a pack of extra
strings and then forget about it. You won't often
need it, but you'll be glad it's there when you do.

Pros: Small, light, and easy to use.
Cons: Does having a stupid name count as a con?

Cases

Gator GL Hard Bag

Model: GL-DREAD-12

A good case protects your guitar from scratches
and dings, comes with pockets for things like picks
and strings so they're always there when you need them,
and makes taking your guitar out into the world much
safer and easier. Hardshell cases provide the most protection, but they can be heavy, expensive, and
awkward to carry. Gig bags are a lot lighter and cheaper,
but they're often ugly and their padding is poor at best.

Hard bags combine the best of both worlds: they're as light and easy to carry as a gig bag and offer protection almost equal to that of a hard case, but at a fraction of the price.

The shoulder straps on this one were cleverly designed.
They let the case ride much lower on your back than any other hardbag I've used, so you won't have to worry about walking through doorways or biking beneath low-hanging branches (awkward).

Pros: Light, sturdy, and easy to carry.
Cons: Plastic hardware on the straps.

Note: Guitars come in many shapes and sizes.
Check to see what size yours is before ordering.
The case I've linked above is for Dreadnaughts & 12-Strings.
For Classical guitars, click here.
For Jumbo models, click here.